The Antichrist in Muhammad: The Blessed Virgin Mary
To the extent that Islam's view of Jesus is motivated by the spirit of antichrist--a position amply proved by prior articles in this series--Islam's view of Mary is motivated by a like spirit.
The Muslim's devotion to Mary, as sincere as it may be, is rendered cancerous by Islam's unequivocal theological denial of the divine Sonship of Jesus, the rejection of Jesus as Redeemer of mankind, and its rejection of Jesus as the unique Savior from sin and death. By denying the greater truth of Jesus, Islam mars the subordinate truth of Mary which relies on the superordinate truth that Jesus is Lord, and all that Lordship means.
She appears, like in the Gospels though with markedly different theological meaning, to be the most blessed of women: "Behold! the angels said: "O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee--chosen thee above the women of all nations." (Qur'an 3:42) Mary is an example of fidelity and holiness. "And Mary the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants)." (Qur'an 66:12)
She is called by the Muslims Sayyidatuna Maryam (loosely translated as "Our Lady," or "Our Mistress"), an honorific title not unique to her and which she shares with three other women, Khadijah and 'Aisha (two wives of Muhammad), and the wife of the Pharaoh Ramses II named Asiya (who, according to the Qur'an 28:7-9 saved Moses, though here it contradicts Exodus 2:7, which states it was the daughter of the Pharaoh, not his wife, who saved Moses from death.) In assessing this honorific title, it should be noted that Mary is not considered one of the Ummahat al-Muʾminin, "mothers of the faithful," an honorific title reserved to Muhammad's many wives. (Qur'an 33:6)
In the Qur'an, Mary's birth is perceived as miraculous, the result of the pious prayers of her parents 'Imran (a likely confusion by Muhammad with Amran, the father of Moses and Aaron and their sister Miriam, since the name has no relationship to the traditional name Joachim) and Hannah (whom Christians call Anne). (Qur'an 3:36-38)
Some commentators even go so far as to suggest that Muhammad taught the immaculate conception of Mary (e.g., Patrick Hughes in his Dictionary of Islam), and point to a hadith where Muhammad reportedly said, "'There is none born among the off-spring of Adam, but Satan touches it. A child therefore, cries loudly at the time of birth because of the touch of Satan, except Mary and her child . . . ." E.g., Sahih al-Bukhari, 4.55.641. However, inasmuch as Muhammad clearly rejected the doctrine of original sin, it is not reasonable to interpret this hadith in favor of the doctrine of immaculate conception which presupposes an understanding of the former doctrine.
There is, finally, no mention of Mary's assumption into heaven one way or other in the Qur'an.
Despite the differences, then, it seems nevertheless significant that Mary is the only woman in the entire Qur'an mentioned by name. She has an entire chapter named after her (Chapter 19, Sura Maryam). She is mentioned 34 times in the Qur'anic text, and so, superficially at least, would appear to be given great importance by Muhammad.
Given the rigorously antichristian position of Muslims in all other major doctrines, Catholics with their sensitivity for things Marian have been particularly tempted to see the Qur'anic emphasis on, and positive view about, Mary as a source of possible inroads into the conversion of Muslims. For example, it was the great Archbishop Fulton Sheen's belief that Muslims, who are notoriously difficult to bring to Christianity, would be converted not through the direct proclamation of the truths of Christ, but rather indirectly, through the "summoning of the Moslems to a veneration of the Mother of God" and through Mary to the fullness of Christ.
The perception is that the Qur'anic veneration given to Mary is a chink in the Islamic armor that allows the the arrow of the Gospel to touch the heart of the Muslim. This is a popular and widely-held perception.
However, in my view, while undoubtedly well-intentioned, this seems to me to be a theological cul de sac. While this view is without doubt advanced in good faith, sincerely, and with the desire to spread the Gospel, it is my belief that it may be built upon a mistaken and superficial understanding of Islam and its understanding of Mary.
The reason for this is that Mary's titles and privileges, which mean so much to ...
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